Another woman became victim of honour killing crime in Swat. According to the police, Shirin Gul was killed by her in-laws for allegedly having an illicit relationship with a man in Kabal tehsil’s Asharey village.
“We heard the sound of a struggle which continued for 20 minutes before everything went quiet. In the morning, we came to know that Gul had hanged to death. Her in-laws claimed that she had committed suicide,” a neighbour requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune.
Neighbours claim her in-laws hanged Gul around midnight.
The victim’s brother-in-law Saleem Khan, his mother Markhanie and his wife Khadija have confessed they strangulated Gul to death before a magistrate.
All the accused killers were arrested by the police soon after the incident. “In accordance with their pre-planned scheme, the trio tried to portray Gul’s death as a suicide. But they confessed to their crime in court after their arrest,” said Dherie Police Station House Officer Amir Zaman.
Gul’s husband, Salam Khan, has been working as a labourer in Saudi Arabia for the past three years.
According to locals, the woman was pregnant and the in-laws believed she was having an affair with another man from the same village. He has gone abroad for work as well.
“She had visible signs of torture and dark red marks around her neck imprinted by the rope. I noticed them when I visited the crime scene with the police team in the morning,” said a schoolteacher.
A worrying increase in the number of incidents of violence against women has been observed in rural Swat, where the mere suspicion of immorality has led to the torture or murder of many women, but neither human rights nor women’s rights organisations have highlighted the issue.
“Nobody can take the law into their own hands. Murder is murder, and no one is allowed to take someone’s life, whatever their perceived justification, Saima Anwar, the first woman lawyer from Swat valley, told The Express Tribune.
According to the law, any person who commits a crime can only be punished by a court after proper investigation,” she said.
“Many women are killed by relatives, simply because they think the woman was having an affair. Unfortunately, no one comes forward to register an FIR against the murderers to get justice for the victims.”
Anwar expressed the hope that human rights and women rights groups would take practical steps including launching public awareness campaigns on women’s rights.
“Marginalised communities should be encouraged and provided assistance to exercise their legal rights,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2012.